(WKBW release) Hurricane Irene and subsequent severe storms throughout the Northeast have caused major flooding, forcing the cancellation of 142 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in a shortfall of more than 4,700 units of blood to date and affecting the ability of volunteer blood donors to travel to drives to give blood.
These numbers could rise in the days ahead as residents in affected areas deal with power outages, road closures and cleanup. Many parts of New York State have been dramatically affected by the flooding, resulting in the loss yesterday of 300 units of blood in the New York-Penn Region alone. For those areas not heavily impacted, the Red Cross is urging immediate blood and platelet donations. Community members in affected areas are asked to consider donating blood once it is safe to do so. Blood has a limited shelf life and platelets have a shelf-life of just five days.
“The recent extreme weather has severely impacted our ability to build blood inventories up to sufficient levels,” stated Donna M. Morrissey, Director of Communications, American Red Cross – Northeast Division. “If people make an appointment to donate blood in the upcoming days and weeks ahead, blood will continue to be available in spite of conditions currently prohibiting many donors in storm ravaged areas from traveling or coming to blood drives.”
The Red Cross is still working to stabilize the blood supply following the challenging summer season, and the damage caused by Hurricane Irene and the ensuing heavy rains may continue to cause difficulties in scheduling blood drives for some time. When disaster strikes, the need for blood does not diminish, even though blood donors may find it difficult or impossible to get to a convenient donation opportunity. If collections are negatively impacted by a disaster, the long-term needs of these patients could also be affected.